“Christ is Love” – 1 Corinthians 13 – Message Notes Only
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This chapter in the Apostle Paul's first epistle to the Corinthian Church, is universally known as the "Love Chapter" in the Bible.
Much has been written by many about it. Even liberal theologians, and secular non-believers, will extol the beauty and virtue of its language, its poetry and theme.
But the truth is, it's all about the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Not about the warm, fuzzy feelings of man (emotion).
To understand, and accurately translate this famous passage of Scripture, we must view it in its grammatical, historical and spiritual context.
Only then can we make application of its truth to our lives as believers in Christ.
The epistle was written in Greek. In Greek there are three words that are translated into one English word - Love.
1. Eros - Passion, lust, sexual desire. This word is not used anywhere in the New Testament.
2. Phileo - Affection, love of man, love of a brother. It is the root of the words: philanthropist, Philadelphia. It means human love at its highest, a noble love.
3. Agapao - The highest word for love in the New Testament. It means divine love.
It is more than emotion; it is love in the will.
It is love that chooses its object.
It is an action that produces its outcome.
The greatest example of agape love is Christ on the cross, and the result is our salvation.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
It is a definition of God:
For God is love
But God is infinitely difficult to define with our limited intellect.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."
So, the Apostle chose to share with us a display of love, rather than a definition.
The Corinthian church was greatly gifted (1 Cor. 1:5) but was using their spiritual gifts wrongly to the detriment of the Church.
The purpose of chapters 12-14 is to correct this problem, and love is the key (Chp. 13).
"And, yet, I will show you the most excellent way..."
(1 Cor. 13:1a)
"Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit..."
(1 Cor. 14:1a)
Love is a "fruit of the Spirit" and overcomes the "works of the flesh."
All of the spiritual gifts are to be used in love, otherwise there is no power in them.
An outline of this chapter should be helpful for our understanding of it:
I. The preeminence of love - Its value. (Vs. 1-3)
II. The prerogative of love - Its virtue. (Vs. 4-7)
III. The permanence of love - Its victory. (Vs. 8-13)
Simply insert "God" or "Christ" for "love" throughout the text.
I. Preeminence of Love - Its Value.
"...tongues of men or angels..."
* Eloquent oratory.
"The most eloquent speech without love is a clanging gong, you can sing like an angel, but without love, it is the hiss of Hell."
Dr. J. Vernon Magee
"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and knowledge..."
* To be able to see the future and the ability to use all knowledge perfectly.
"...faith that can move mountains..."
* A euphemism for the impossible (Matt. 17:20, 21:21)
"...if I give all...to the poor...my body to hardship..."
* "The poor" - All my resources to charity.
* "Hardship" - Persecution, tribulation
* "Prophecy," "knowledge," and "hardship" are all temporal and are best used in the temporary, this physical life.
But love is eternal, here and forever, never failing. (1 Cor. 13:8-10)
So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Cor. 4:18)
"...but do not have love, I gain nothing."
* "Prophecy," "knowledge," "faith," charity and persecution are of limited value without love (God). Love must be added to realize their fullness.
Unfortunately, as with the Corinthian church, the Church today has the same problems.
There is knowledge of the Bible and understanding of its truths, but because of a lack of love, application is not always present in its members.
This is often demonstrated by gossip, bitterness, envy, jealousy and sexual immorality. All symptoms of carnality, a lack of maturity.
Remember that love is an act of the will. Love requires action.
Love involves the heart (Vs. 1), the mind (Vs. 2) and the will (Vs. 3).
Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and must be added to every gift of the Spirit. Without love, the gift is worthless.
II. The Prerogative of Love - Its Virtue.
"Love is patient, love is kind..."
* Patience is "longsuffering," one of God's attributes (Ex. 34:6).
* Love is impossible without kindness.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
"...love does not envy..."
* Love is content with its situation.
* Envy is a serious sin, it can lead to murder, as it did with Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:3-8).
* John the Baptist understood envy, and did not fall to it. (Jn. 3:22-30)
"He must become greater; I must become less.” (Jn. 3:30)
"...it does not boast, is not proud."
* Love is not arrogant (boastful), does not seek its own advantage or thinks it is better than another.
* Love is not proud, seeking a higher place at the expense of others.
"...it is not easily angered..."
* Love doesn't have a short temper, is not easily "provoked" (KJV).
* But it can be provoked to righteous anger (Matt. 21:12-13).
"...it keeps no record of wrongs..."
* Love does not hang on to a grudge, or gossip about it.
"Love does not delight in evil..."
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
"But, rejoices with the truth."
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.
(2 Jn. 4)
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
(3 Jn. 4)
"...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
"Bears all things..."
* Especially one another's burdens.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
"...endures all things."
* And endured the cross for our burden.
III. Preeminence of Love - Its Victory.
"Love never fails..."
* God's love is permanent, unending and unshakeable.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
God's love goes beyond the boundaries of time and space.
Christ has never stopped loving us and interceding for us. (Rms. 8:34).
His love is limitless in its forgiveness, no sinner has committed a sin Christ can't forgive.
"...prophecies...will cease...tongues will be stilled...knowledge will pass away."
* "Prophecies" will cease, they will be fulfilled and become history.
* "Tongues" will stop, no longer needed.
* "Knowledge" will vanish, Ex.: Science from 10 years ago is already superseded. Knowledge is progressive, "it will pass away."
Prophecies, tongues and knowledge will all vanish once their purposes have been served. But love never fails, because God never fails, and:
God is love!
"For we know in part and we prophesy in part..."
* We're not as smart as we think!
Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.
(1 Cor. 8:2)
"...but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears."
"For our knowledge is always incomplete and our prophecy is always incomplete, and when the Complete (Christ) comes, that is the end of the incomplete."
The New Testament in Modern English
J. B. Phillips
"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."
"...I put the ways of childhood behind me."
* Paul could write that as truth.
"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror..."
* Or, as "through a glass darkly" (KJV), sight less than perfect. A mere reflection of the Truth (Phil. 3:12).
"...then we shall see face to face..."
* With nothing between Christ and us.
Why can't we see clearly now?
Sin separates us until we are made sinless as He is at the resurrection.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him (sinless), for we shall see Him as He is.
(1 Jn. 3:2)
"...now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am full known."
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
(1 Jn. 3:2)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Cor. 13:13)
Why is love the "greatest of these?"
When Christ makes all things new and we are led into the heavenly kingdom, "faith" will no longer be needed because the "redeemed" will see Him "face to face."
"Hope" will no longer be needed because our "blessed hope" will have come to pass.
But "love" will remain, fully experienced because sin is finally removed.
The Apostle Paul has not described or defined an abstract term - love.
Rather he has written here a biography of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Apostle John wrote of Jesus:
"...having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." (Jn 13:1)
The love of Jesus is an eternal love!